Driving on Colonial Parkway in Historic Eastern Virginia

J uly 4 is the celebration of the independence of the United States from England back in 1776 — and it all began with Jamestown, which started as a fort in 1607 and became the first permanent English settlement in the western hemisphere.

Other colonies — such as Williamsburg and Yorktown — were established as well and formed what is now known as the historic triangle; but they were spread across greater than 20 miles of what is now eastern Virginia.

Driving on Colonial Parkway in Historic Eastern Virginia

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Colonial National Historical Park is a 10,221-acre unit of the National Park Service located between the James and York rivers whose establishment was authorized in 1930. Modeled after the aesthetics of the Bronx River Parkway in New York — which was the first highway constructed through a park and the first highway where intersecting streets crossed over bridges — the design of what is now known as Colonial Parkway began in the spring of 1931…

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

…but unlike the Bronx River Parkway — which was the first highway to utilize a median strip to separate the opposing lanes — the roadway of Colonial Parkway consists basically slabs of concrete aggregate and stones with no median strip.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

There are few signs and virtually no markings on the pavement — not even to delineate the division between opposing directions of traffic or of definitive lanes.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

The only unintended indication of what defines the lanes are the cracks between the slabs of concrete.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Colonial Parkway — which was finally completed in 1957 — extends for approximately 23 miles on which motorists can drive between Jamestown and Yorktown, with Williamsburg located along the way.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

With no toll, Colonial Parkway is free for any motorist to use — but large trucks are not permitted to use the roadway.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

A network of decorative brick arched overpasses contribute to the aesthetic feel of Colonial Parkway, complementing the natural beauty of the park.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

In addition to access for motorists, there are also special archways for pedestrians on the walkways which parallel the parkway.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

A family enjoys the scenic walkway along Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

You would never know that downtown Williamsburg and Colonial Williamsburg were close by, as you might be led to believe that you were in the middle of an idyllic yet expansive forest.

Colonial Parkway

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Due to it being intentionally slightly out of focus, the above photograph resembles more of an oil painting than a photograph — in my opinion, anyway.

Summary

Roads and highways have always been special to me, as I have had great interest in them — and so I had to drive the entire length of Colonial Parkway.

My imagination led me to wonder what driving down Colonial Parkway in a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible would be like — and I am not particularly fond of convertibles — with the top down on a day with weather as spectacular as what I experienced when I drove on Colonial Parkway earlier this year. It would seem like going back in time where the cracks and tar strips of the concrete would be felt by the tires — tha-dump tha-dump — and would be heard as though it were a rhythmic chant.

It was a truly beautiful and relaxing drive — one where I had no desire to exceed the speed limit of either 45 miles per hour or 35 miles per hour…

…and if you have the opportunity to visit the first settlements of the United States, do yourself a favor and take Colonial Parkway to travel between Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown — all three of which I intend to post articles with trip reports in the future.

All photographs ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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